LETTER: War-time crashes claimed many lives

Regarding the News’ good coverage of the wartime Mount Welch Liberator crash ...

Regarding the News’ good coverage of the wartime Mount Welch Liberator crash, I have a couple of historical comments and corrections to pass along to your reporters.

The article says it was the “largest single loss of life in B.C. during the Second World War,” which simply is not true, sadly enough.

By my count, there were nine Liberators written off in B.C. in eight fatal accidents during  the war and all 11 crew members were killed in four of them (Saltspring Island, Nitinat Lake, Bell Island and Mt. Welch).  There were 14 killed in the Liberator crash near Bamfield, which included several non-aircrew airmen and airwomen hitching a ride from Tofino to Pat Bay on leave.

The other accidents were the crash at Whonnock (seven killed), EW210 that had mid-air explosion and crashed in the water near Point Roberts (three killed) and the runway collision at Abbotsford (nine killed).

There was also a mid-air with a Kittyhawk, while practicing fighter affiliation work off the White Rock pier.  This Liberator landed with minimal damage, but the Kittyhawk went straight into the water and the pilot was killed.

The normal Liberator crew was 11, but when they were doing preliminary flying, navigation and bomb-dropping training without the air gunners on board, it was only seven.

Also, the writer suggests that one of the deceased RAF members would be going home soon, because the war in Europe had ended.

I know or have known a number of aircrew who trained on the Liberators at Abbotsford.  It appears that most of the crews were sent to the Far East, as the RAF had many Liberator squadrons in India and Ceylon, attacking Japanese forces in Burma, China, Thailand, Indochina, etc.  Also, some crews were sent to RCAF Eastern Air Command and RAF Coastal Command, who were mainly involved in suppressing German submarines in the Atlantic Ocean. RAF Bomber Command did not use Liberators on bombing missions in Northern Europe, but did have squadrons based in Egypt and Palestine, and later in Italy, for bombing targets in Southern Europe, Poland, etc.

Of course, the war in the Pacific was not yet over, so I would think that most of the crews graduating from No. 5 OTU would continue to head in that direction.  According to Carl Vincent’s book on the Liberator, the RAF received over 2,000 Liberators through purchase and Lend Lease.

I was aware that Chris Weicht and his Air Cadet squadron had erected a memorial several decades ago, but was not aware that the memorial was down on Airplane Creek and not up at the crash site.

Jerry Vernon, President, Vancouver Chapter, Canadian Aviation Historical Society

Just Posted

Community-funded recording grant benefits Abbotsford songwriters

Common Room Music Collective starts ongoing grant to help musicians with recording costs

Langley – revving up for the cause

Two local cancer patients receive a bit of financial aid from a recent Langley charity car show

Dainty Dish signs off with Abbotsford School District

25-year partnership saw over 1.8 million lunches served; future of school lunch program unclear

Rolling with the punches: Abbotsford Mission Boxing Club finds new home

Club moves from Mission to Maclure Road in Abbotsford

Abbotsford Regional Hospital’s ER expansion still in the works

Deadline for construction proposals recently closes, but construction timeline unknown

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Vancouver Island teens missing after vehicle found ablaze near Dease Lake, BC

RCMP say a body discovered nearby not one of the missing teens

A year later, ceremony commemorates victims of the Danforth shooting

It’s the one-year anniversary of when a man opened fire along the bustling street before shooting and killing himself

Japanese Canadians call on B.C. to go beyond mere apology for historic racism

The federal government apologized in 1988 for its racism against ‘enemy aliens’

B.C. VIEWS: NDP pushes ahead with Crown forest redistribution

This isn’t the time for a radical Indigenous rights agenda

Two dead in two-vehicle crash between Revelstoke and Golden

RCMP are investigating the cause of the crash

Ottawa fights planned class action against RCMP for bullying, intimidation

The current case is more general, applying to employees, including men, who worked for the RCMP

Alberta judge denies B.C.’s bid to block ‘Turn Off the Taps’ bill

He said the proper venue for the disagreement is Federal Court

Most Read